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“I’m just thankful I’m still able to enjoy this once-a-year treat,” he told The Associated Press by e-mail in December 2008 as another New Year’s Eve approached.

He was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, telling the crowd: “I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I’ve been truly blessed.”

He was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929. His father, Richard Augustus Clark, was a sales manager who worked in radio.

Clark idolized his athletic older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II. In his 1976 autobiography, “Rock, Roll & Remember,” Clark recalled how radio helped ease his loneliness and turned him into a fan of Steve Allen, Arthur Godfrey and other popular hosts.

From Godfrey, he said, he learned that “a radio announcer does not talk to `those of you out there in radio land’; a radio announcer talks to me as an individual.”

Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years’ experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He held a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. While in Philadelphia, Clark befriended McMahon, who later credited Clark for introducing him to his future “Tonight Show” boss, Johnny Carson.

In the 1960s, “American Bandstand” moved from black-and-white to color, from weekday broadcasts to once-a-week Saturday shows and from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Although its influence started to ebb, it still featured some of the biggest stars of each decade, whether Janis Joplin, the Jackson 5, Talking Heads or Prince. But Clark never did book two of rock’s iconic groups, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Elvis Presley also never performed, although Clark managed an on-air telephone interview while Presley was in the Army.

When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, Clark recalled working with him since he was a child, adding, “of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched.”

Clark kept more than records spinning with his Dick Clark Productions. Its credits included the Academy of Country Music and Golden Globe awards; TV movies including the Emmy-winning “The Woman Who Willed a Miracle” (1984), the “$25,000 Pyramid” game show and the 1985 film “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.” Clark himself made a cameo on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and a dramatic appearance as a witness on the original “Perry Mason.” He was an involuntary part of Michael Moore’s Academy Award-winning “Bowling for Columbine,” in which Clark is seen brushing off Moore as the filmmaker confronts him about working conditions at a restaurant owned by Clark.

In 1974, at ABC’s request, Clark created the American Music Awards after the network lost the broadcast rights to the Grammy Awards.

He was also an author, with “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand” and such self-help books as “Dick Clark’s Program for Success in Your Business and Personal Life” and “Looking Great, Staying Young.” His unchanging looks inspired a joke in “Peggy Sue Gets Married,” the 1986 comedy starring Kathleen Turner as an unhappy wife and mother transported back to 1960. Watching Clark on a black and white TV set, she shakes her head in amazement, “Look at that man, he never ages.”

Clark’s clean-cut image survived a music industry scandal. In 1960, during a congressional investigation of “payola” or bribery in the record and radio industry, Clark was called on to testify.

He was cleared of any suspicions but was required by ABC to divest himself of record-company interests to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. The demand cost him $8 million, Clark once estimated. His holdings included partial ownership of Swan Records, which later released the first U.S. version of the Beatles’ smash “She Loves You.”

In 2004, Clark announced plans for a revamped version of “American Bandstand.” The show, produced with “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller, was to feature a host other than Clark.

He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1994 and served as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

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